From April Fifth to June Fourth: Craze, Hunger, and Everydayness in China’s Reform Era (CHI4604.01)

Jingsheng Zhang

This course invites students to examine the Reform Era in the history of PRC, that is, the Eighties (1978-1989). With the opening up of China in the 1980s, students, college professors, and artists ushered in an unprecedented wave of creativity. Due to temporary political freedom and the society’s “hunger” for knowledge, this decade featured a profound vigor that gave rise to an explosion of cultural debates and cultural products. The course starts by reading poems and posters in the April Fifth Movement in 1976, which initiated the repressed critique of the Cultural Revolution. While we are focusing on literature, art and film, we will be just as concerned with understanding the trends of thoughts—humanities, modernity and (post-)modernism, historical reflection, debates on east and west, etc.—whereby culture was constantly challenged and innovated. Our discussion will lead finally to the Tiananmen Square Protests on June Fourth 1989, which largely brought to the end a decade of radical experimentation and expression in politics and arts.

Note: this course is entirely remote, and will be held synchronously.


Learning Outcomes:
Students will perform close readings of complex historical texts, literature and films.
Students will write extended essays on the readings.
Students will present their observations, views, and papers as part of the group.

Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Prerequisites: This course is for students with five-term of prior experience in Chinese at the college level. Please contact Ginger Lin ( for registration.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W/F, 1:40PM-3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 10
Course Frequency: One time only

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